Home oxygen assessment

Information for patients

Respiratory and sleep physiology

Please read this information carefully before your appointment.

Your appointment letter will tell you the location, date and time of your appointment.

What is the appointment for?

We have been asked to formally assess your requirement for home oxygen therapy.

Why do I need an oxygen assessment?

Some people with lung or heart problems may have difficulty obtaining all the oxygen they need. This means they have less oxygen in their blood - low oxygen levels. This could be at rest, during activity, during sleep, or all of these.

For these people, giving additional oxygen may help to increase the amount of oxygen in their blood, which may help them to carry out normal daily activities with less difficulty and improve quality of life.

Oxygen is not helpful for everyone, it can be harmful and therefore we need to assess whether or not it may be of benefit to you. If it is found that oxygen would be beneficial to you, then we would need to assess the right amount of oxygen.

What if I am already on home oxygen?

If you have been using oxygen at home for some time, you should still attend the appointment for a review of your therapy. Oxygen requirements may change over time, so we will assess whether your oxygen prescription is still appropriate.

If you have been using oxygen at home following a recent admission to hospital, you may have recovered now such that your oxygen level could be higher. This may mean that your oxygen may no longer be required or you may require a different prescription of oxygen.

How is home oxygen used?

Oxygen may be prescribed for use at rest for long periods (Long Term Oxygen Therapy), during exertion (Ambulatory Oxygen Therapy), at night (Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy), or a combination of all of these situations.

If we discover that you have a low level of oxygen and may benefit from additional oxygen it will not mean that you cannot move around the house or go out and about as usual. 

There are many different ways of delivering additional oxygen and we will find one that best suits your oxygen requirements and your lifestyle. 

Oxygen is not just for use while you are unwell in hospital; it can help to keep you feeling well and maintain your activity levels enabling you to lead a normal life.

Is home oxygen safe?

An assessment will be carried out to highlight any potential risks and ensure that home oxygen is safe - you may be asked a few questions regarding this. If any risks are identified, you may be referred elsewhere to try and reduce the risk before home oxygen can be prescribed (such as smoking cessation, falls assessment). If you require support to stop smoking, please contact Get Healthy Rotherham for free advice and support. Telephone 01709 718720.

What happens during the assessment?

In order to measure your oxygen levels at rest, we need to take a small sample of blood from your earlobe, called a capillary blood gas. Firstly, your ear will be warmed up, using a heat rub cream.

Once warmed adequately, we will use a lancet (small needle) to produce blood flow from the earlobe. The resulting flow of blood can then be collected using a small tube called a capillary tube. As your earlobe is often less sensitive that other areas of the body, the test may feel a little uncomfortable, with minimal pain. Although this is unique to the patient. Please discuss with your Healthcare Professional if you have any concerns.

In some people oxygen levels can reduce during periods of activity. Therefore you may be asked to perform a walking test to assess whether you may benefit from oxygen during physical exertion. Your oxygen level during the walk test is monitored using a wrist oximeter.

For some conditions, oxygen levels can be lower during sleep. We may therefore issue you with a wrist oximeter to use overnight at home, to assess your oxygen levels at night.

You will also be asked a few questions about your symptoms and the activities you undertake. To carry out all of this can often take some time (sometimes up to an hour or more) and you may be asked to return for a second appointment in a few weeks’ time. This is important to allow us to discover the optimum oxygen level for you.

What about medications?

Please continue to take all prescribed medicines as normal on the day of the assessment and bring a list of your medications with you.

Other important information

If you currently have or recently had a chest infection (within 6 weeks of your appointment) and/or have taken a course of antibiotics and/or oral steroids please contact us on 01709 424572.

If you take antibiotics or steroids all of the time, please continue to do so and we will assess you as planned.Please do not put off taking antibiotics or steroids in order to attend the assessment, we will simply rearrange it when you are clear of an infection.

What if I cannot attend?

If you are unable to attend the appointment that has been arranged for you, please contact the department on 01709 424572 as soon as possible so that we can organise an alternative appointment for you, and offer your appointment time to another patient on our waiting list.

What will happen if I do not want this test?

You can choose whether or not to have the tests, but if you do choose not to complete them, important information may be missed which may impact on receiving an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

How to contact us

Respiratory and Sleep Physiology 

Telephone 01709 424572 
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm
Email: rgh-tr.medical.physics@nhs.net

Home oxygen assessment - patient information leaflet.
Produced by Department of Respiratory and Sleep Physiology, February 2022. 
Revision due: February 2024. Version: 1.0
©The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 2022. All rights reserved

Did this information help you?

  • Page last reviewed: 24 January 2023
  • Next review due: 24 January 2024